It’s official: the Tory leadership contest is well and truly underway. No matter that everyone’s interested in the Labour result this weekend and no matter that David Cameron hasn’t even set a date for his departure. This evening, at a drinks reception in a parliamentary lair, Owen Paterson announced that he would be drawing up a set of robust Tory policies for whoever wants to stand as leader to adopt.
Speaking to a group of MPs, peers and hacks, the Tory MP said that his think tank UK 2020 – which he said he set up after ‘I was fired’ by the Prime Minister – would work on a series of challenging policy papers over the next few months, which would provide a platform for a future leadership contender. He didn’t name any preferred candidate – and I couldn’t spot any of those known to be considering a leadership bid at the event – but made it clear that these policies would move the Conservative party right-wards.
One MP who was attending remarked that ‘it’s the first coup I’ve attended’.